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Remembering Arthur McNeil, Namesake of McNeil Elementary

Press Release|
Shane Mauldin|
Wednesday, July 31, 2019
In 2012, the students of McNeil Elementary showed their appreciation for the namesake of their school by planting a flower bed in his honor.

In 2012, the students of McNeil Elementary showed their appreciation for the namesake of their school by planting a flower bed in his honor.

McKinney, Texas – If we ever needed a man like Arthur McNeil, it’s today. In a society overwhelmed with self-obsession and the frantic pursuit of modern life, McNeil’s life and legacy offer a reminder that…maybe, there is a better way.

Reflections on his life tend to start with the sorts of qualities that marked the man himself—kindness, character, integrity…

“First and foremost, Arthur McNeil was a gentleman,” said McKinney ISD Superintendent Dr. Rick McDaniel. “Anyone that knew him personally, knows that he was a first class individual who poured his heart and soul into McKinney ISD for many years.”

More than 40 years, in fact.

He passed away on July 26, 2019, at the age of 82, survived by his wife Penny, two sons and one daughter—as well as five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

To our great benefit, his legacy extends well beyond his family.

Eighteen years ago, when McKinney ISD built a school near the intersection of Hardin Blvd. and McKinney Ranch Parkway, McNeil’s name was chosen to adorn it. And, to those who knew him, that name on the front of the building declared with bold letters the commitment to excellence and character that MISD intended for that school.

McNeil sitting on bench

Arthur McNeil, namesake of McNeil Elementary, at the school in 2015

Since then, thousands of children have passed through the classrooms of Arthur H. McNeil Elementary School. And, they enjoyed the rare gift of getting to know the person for whom their school was named. In their eyes, Arthur McNeil was a celebrity.

“They would just…look up at him,” said Tracy Meador, who has served as principal of McNeil Elementary for the past five years. “He was larger than life, I would say.”

Over the years, McNeil was a regular visitor at the school, always in attendance when possible at special events such as talent shows and the annual “Lighting of the Windmill” during the holidays. But, Meador and Assistant Principal Jennifer Harrison particularly loved his impromptu visits.

“He would just pop in,” said Meador. “He really, truly just wanted to be with kids, and he wanted to see them in the classroom, and he wanted to see the teachers doing their thing. He wanted to just be here, with the spirit of the students.”

“He loved interacting with the kids,” Harrison added. “And, they loved him. He had such a great personality. He would interact with the students the way a teacher would. He just got the kids, and the kids thought that he was the funniest person. They were so mesmerized by him because the school was named after him.”

If ever there was an example of investing one’s life where you’re planted, surely Arthur McNeil was it. Born here in 1937, McNeil spent the vast majority of his life in McKinney. He was a member of the same church throughout his life and received all but his post-secondary education from MISD. A retracing of McNeil’s education reveals a sort of historical reference guide to largely forgotten MISD schools that either no longer exist or have been renamed or rebuilt over the ensuing decades.

McNeil attended first grade at J.H. Hill Elementary and then second through sixth grades at J.L. Greer Elementary. He spent his junior high years at L.A. Scott Junior High School and graduated from the original Boyd High School in 1955.

He went on to complete his bachelor’s degree at what was then known as North Texas State College and then returned to MISD in 1959 to begin his first job for the district as a sixth grade teacher. He later earned a master’s degree in administration and counseling from North Texas State University and did post-graduate work at the School of Business Management.

Over the course of 36 years with the district, among his many duties, McNeil would serve as a vice principal at McKinney High School, MISD business manager and eventually assistant superintendent of business affairs. After his retirement in 1995, McNeil continued to serve part-time with the district for seven more years.

He was good at what he did.

“I credit Arthur McNeil with the positive financial situation that MISD is in today,” said Lynn Sperry, who has been a member of the MISD Board of Trustees since 1984. “It was his careful and conservative way of approaching our financials that began the practices that I think we have in place now. He was so conservative and so careful with spending and how things were done that I think he started something good, and it’s only gotten better.”

McDaniel drives the point home. “We all stand on the shoulders of administrators like Arthur McNeil. McKinney ISD is the place that it is today because of administrators like Arthur McNeil, and I am proud to say that I knew him.”

“I think that Mr. McNeil was really proud of McNeil Elementary and proud of it being his namesake,” said Meador. “But, he was so humble about it, you know? It’s not like he expected you to roll out the red carpet—even though he deserved that.”

Indeed.

The life of Arthur McNeil was one worthy of consideration—a life lived in service to others, marked by humility, kindness and integrity—a life that was about investing in future generations.

The world can always use more of that. Today more than ever.

Thank you, Arthur McNeil.

You will be deeply missed.

Need Help?

If you need additional assistance with the content on this page, please contact MISD Communications Department team member Shane Mauldin by phone at 469-302-4007 or by email here .

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